Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Cockers cleaning house at Edinburgh

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne - pic © Al Ross
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne - pic © Al Ross

Reports yesterday from a very forthright press conference by Richard Cockerill have Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Cornell du Preez, Jason Tovey and Duncan Weir all headed for the exit from Edinburgh at the end of the season.

According to the reports (best one is on The Offside Line), Hidalgo-Clyne is leaving after a failure to agree terms with the club, which leaves them a little short on quality 9s. Discussions are mentioned with a NZ based scrum-half. Could this be Finlay Christie, or have the exiles programme unearthed someone else? We know how key half-backs are to the national team’s plans so to have 50% of the available slots for standoffs and possibly some of the scrum half positions also tied up by non Scots would be a sticky problem for the national coach. That, of course, is possibly a new problem for Cockerill and one he may see as not entirely his.

Tovey and Weir are sad but unsurprising given Tovey’s contract is up at the end of the season and the amount of recruiting Cockerill did late last year in that area. Weir has been recalled from loan to Worcester for this weekend’s game with Ulster but is expected to see out the season down there under Alan Solomons (who signed him for Edinburgh), presumably with an eye on a long-term deal.

Cornell du Preez is the only forward on the list (so far) and whether there is a replacement lined up is unclear. Luke Hamilton would be an ideal candidate but with Luke Crosbie, Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury they are already well served in that area. If they get all their props fit they might be over-provisioned there too (Jordan Lay will be leaving at season’s end too).

He also didn’t deny that Matt Scott might be returning next season, but nor did he confirm it. He suggests the makeup of his squad is 99% complete but that this is just the first year in a multi-year plan to build out the depth. With success will come increased budget so Edinburgh might be lean but higher quality next season and new players brought in as additions rather than replacements in the years to come.

Which areas do you think Edinburgh should recruit in next season and who would you target?

UPDATE: it was announced yesterday that CdP will join Worcester, with Dave Denton leaving that club and rumoured to be headed to Leicester.

41 Responses

  1. Confirmed that the Following players are exiting Edinburgh at the end of the season.

    Due to budget/negotiations.

    Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
    Cornell Du Preez

    Performance/Style Edinburgh want to play.

    Duncar Weir
    Jason Tovey

    1. I did wonder why let SHC and Du Preez go, and you’ve nailed it. Question is, who will replace SHC as Fowles and Kennedy aren’t the same type of player?

  2. Any updates on Hardie. It was speculated in these blogs that Barclay would fill his slot , can we assume Hardie remains?

  3. An example matchday squad next season of

    Dicko Mcinally Nel
    Gilchrist Toolis
    Barclay Mata Hardie
    New SH VdW/Hickey
    VdM Scott Bennett Graham

    Sutherland, Ford, Berghan, Carmichael, Bradbury/Ritchie, Fowles/Kennedy, Burleigh, Hoyland

    Honourable mentions to Dell McCallum McKenzie Hunter-Hill Crosbie Dean and Brown.

    That is a seriously solid squad. Of course there are a few unknowns eg Hardie staying, Dickinson and Nel ever getting back to their previous heights etc., and a new SH is paramount. I’m excited about the prospect of Finlay Christie though. The future is bright for Embra.

  4. Edinburgh squad for next season could be pretty useful.

    Props: Marfo, Dell, Sutherland, Dickinson??, Nel, Berghan, McCallum, Bryce, Shields
    Hookers: McInally, Ford, Cochrane, Fenton
    2nd Row: Gilchrist, Toolis, McKenzie, Carmichael, Hunter-Hill
    Back row: Barclay, Bradbury, Ritchie, Crosbie, Mata, Watson, Hardie

    Scrum Half: Kennedy, Fowles, Shiel, NZ Prospect (Finlay Christie?)
    Fly Half: van der Walt, Hickey
    Centre: Dean, Bennett, Burleigh, Rasolea,
    Back 3: Graham, Brown, Harries, Hoyland, van der Merwe, Bryce, Kinghorn

    Add in the potential re-signing of Matt Scott, and there is some depth and talent there.

    1. Marfo
    2. McInally
    3. Nel
    4. Toolis
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Bradbury
    9. Kennedy
    10. van der Walt/Hickey
    11. van der Merwe
    12. Scott (or Dean if Scott doesn’t sign)
    13. Bennett
    14. Graham
    15. Kinghorn

    1. I don’t think there’s much chance of either Bryce getting kept on. Suspect Harries will also depart, having faded from view since the first few games.

      Outstanding contract renewals for Hardie, Marfo, Burleigh, among others, will be interesting to watch. With only two specialist 10s, then keeping Burleigh is a must I think.

      1. I don’t disagree with any of those points but at present they are not announced as departing so included them. Also, Kinghorn can play 10 so that gives 4 to cover.

    2. Wow I somehow forgot about Watson in my post above! Marfo slipped my mind as well. A serious team is being assembled by Cockers

  5. Both of you forgot about Dougie Fife who I think has matured quite nicely this last wee while. Also James Johnstone.

    1. I didn’t forget about them but I believe they are both contracted through Scotland 7s until end of next season.

      Both good players though who will add value to Edinburgh if/when they become full time XV players again

  6. scrum half a priority now, haven’t seen any of shiels so can’t comment there but fowles and Kennedy are average and would struggle to get a regular game for most sides. Finlay Christie has not long signed a new deal in super rugby so not sure if he is the NZ man in question.

    With du preez leaving it leaves us with only mata and Bradbury as ball carrying 8s which could leave us slightly short with injuries but guess you have to cut the budget somewhere as mentioned in the interview. Hopefully Bradbury is campaigned exclusively as an 8 next season and kicks on as his progress stagnated this year.

    Would be happy enough if K bryce and shields move on. Would rather millar-mills given more game time if need be. Really due some decent luck with injuries in the front row given our struggles this season. Surely we don’t have enough room for marfo, dell, Sutherland and Dickinson at loosehead? The latter has been out for so long now it would seem unlikely he will return and if he does what level he will be at given his age.

  7. Perhaps Greeg comes home? If there is a Cockerill type player surely its Laidlaw? Depends on if how much he might cost I suppose.

  8. The main driver for Edinburgh or Glasgow having a large squad is being able to cope with league duties during and immediately after International windows. If you reduce the size of the squad, you need to find another way to limit your exposure during those periods, and the only way to do that whilst retaining a squad of talent is to bring in NSQ players, or even better, project players. Wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few young prospects from southern climes in the pipeline.

  9. Bit odd how he says “we had too many forwards not enough backs”… and then releases 1 forward and 3 backs…and also says things are 99% sorted…kind of suggests that there is more to come pretty soon.

    1. Think what he really means is: “not enough backs… that I think are good enough”

      And yeah I would expect a few more announcements of signings coming soon

  10. He said or inferred other players had been told they could go.

    Does anyone have a list of out of contract players?

  11. I wonder if one of the Glasgow scrum halves might be transferred. Price and Horne seem to be ahead of Pyrgos in the pecking order and there is always Matawalu for back-up. Also wonder if Laidlaw might fancy retiring in the capital. Suspect though that the international scouts have unearthed someone we haven’t heard of yet.

    1. I think Cockers will probably only take Glasgow’s cast offs if he actually wants them and feels they are of sufficient quality. If he’s happy to let SHC go I find it hard to believe he would sign Pyrgos.

      1. I think you are right. With Mike Blair coaching the scrum halves at Glasgow with Scottish backing I don’t think any will be encouraged to move. This year Price seems to have gone backwards a little and so has Pyrgos. If it wasn’t for the progress of Horne you would be worried about what they are doing there.

    2. Don’t think there’s much change of Greeg coming home yet. He’s on a 3-year deal at Clermont and will be getting a much bigger wedge than Edinburgh could offer I would imagine.

      1. Croissants every day or a bread roll fae the bakery on Slateford Road. No brainer, stay away.

  12. Any rumours on where SHC is going? I guess he must have had other options if he couldn’t agree terms with Edinburgh

  13. Edinburgh desperately need a quality 9 . The rest of the squad is shaping up nicely but it is obvious that Fowles and Kennedy are not good enough . Price and Horne are streets ahead of them.

  14. What an inspired signing Cockerill’s appointment has been. Edinburgh have gone from an under-performing laughing stock to improving team with play-off aspirations, playing a brand of rugby that brings the best out of a squad. One can’t argue with his signings and those leaving are peripheral and not central to the future direction of the club. Agree that a quality scrum half (a la Pienaar) would take the team to the next level. No need to take those not good enough to make it at Glasgow.

  15. Would love to see Edinburgh and Glasgow do some clever business with one another over the coming months which would allow each club to have the strongest squad possible heading into next season.

    George Horne is a serious talent who at 22 should be having plenty of game-time and feel he will not reach the heights he can if he is stuck behind Price in Glasgow’s pecking order. Edinburgh desperately need a top quality scrum-half and if Horne goes to Edinburgh I feel he can develop into one of the best.

    However if Glasgow release someone of George Horne’s talent early from his contract it is only fair they ask Edinburgh to offer something in return to make the deal fair on both clubs. With Mata, Barclay, Watson, Crosbie, Ritchie and Bradburry all signed on Edinburgh have a wealth of back row talent whilst the only top quality back-row talent Glasgow have is Fagerson and Wilson so Edinburgh could easily offer Glasgow one of Crosbie, Ritchie or Bradburry for George Horne.

    Also feel with Marfo, Dell, Dickinson and possibly McCallum ahead of Sutherland in the pecking order for loosehead prop his game-time may be limited. Sutherland is someone I rate and someone with his talent at his age should be playing every week. Allan and Bhatti are the only other Loosehead props of real quality at Glasgow and therefore Sutherland would get far more gametime.

    It is important that both clubs feel they are getting the same out of any deal to avoid any animosity between the clubs and I believe George Horne for one of Bradburry, Ritchie or Crosbie and Sutherland would be a completely fair deal which would allow both clubs to grow and prosper into top teams who can not only continue to compete at the top end of the pro 14 but in the champions cup as well.

    1. Harsh on Matt Smith but agree with the sentiment. Horne needs to be playing every week. Edinburgh have too many loose heads. A bit of mutually beneficial swap aboutery would be a good idea.

    2. I can’t see Glasgow letting Horne go. It would weaken them massively as Price is going to be unavailable throughout the season with injuries, call ups and mandatory rotation.

      Also Glasgow are fairly well stocked in the backrow with Smith, Fagerson, Gibbins, Wilson, Harley, Ashe (sure I am missing some). I don’t think they need another young backrow player to move from Edinburgh, they could probably do with a more established player, such as Hamilton for example (assuming he’s available) or possibly Hardie, but I can’t see that one happening.

      On the Loosehead suggestions, McCallum normally plays TightHead these days and only covers LH during the injury crisis Edinburgh have been going through. Due to the excessive injuries I suspect Dell, Sutherland and Marfo will be needed by Edinburgh. If Dickinson ever gets fit again he would be in the mix as well, but he’s been out for so long I don’t think it’s realistic to include him in the LH options at this time.

      I agree with your suggestion in principle, I just don’t think on this occasion it would be appropriate.

      1. Much more likely to be Pyrgos if any of the Glasgow 9s head east. But I fully expect Horne to be in the international squad in the summer, and for the Autumn AI’s – which would leave Glasgow short of cover

      2. Pyrgos is NOT the answer to Edinburgh’s scrum half problem. He was an upgrade on SHC a couple of seasons ago but has peaked and arguably regressed as a player.

      3. Agree with Highland Bear, Pyrgos is not the answer to our scrum half issues. He’s arguably the same as Fowles but not quite as good anymore.

  16. Maybe there’s been a double bluff and Ben Vellacott has had a miraculous change of heart and loyalties after spying on the English training!!!

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